Why Your College Essay Shouldn’t be Perfect

I would like to clear the air regarding a major misconception about writing the college application essay.

There is no perfect way to write an essay.

That’s right. There is no perfect college essay. Sure there are lots of experts generating lots of lists (I’m one of them) about how to write an application essay. And much of that information will be useful. But if you try to follow every single guideline you will wind up writing a much too careful, stilted, formulaic and possibly confused essay.

Instead, read all you can about writing an application essay or personal statement, take what you feel is valuable and applies to you, then approach the creation of your essay in a way that reflects your own distinct and wonderful self.

One size does not fit all

Along those same lines, there is also no universally perfect college application essay. What might be a perfect essay to one Admissions Director, or one college, might not have the same impact somewhere else. Not only that, an effective essay can take many forms, and should reveal the individual student.

The solution to perfection? Honesty.

So what should a student do about all this? Stop striving for perfection and write the best essay you can possibly write. You’ll be fine if you follow a few steps:

  • Make your application essay honest
  • Reflect who you are in content, tone and writing ability
  • Demonstrate deep and original thinking
  • Aim for true emotional impact
  • Don’t stress


Don’t strive for perfection – there is no such thing as a perfect college essay. Instead, aim for an honest essay that reflects who you are and who you are becoming. Use content, tone and writing ability to reflect your original thinking. Aim for true emotional impact, and most importantly?

Don’t stress!

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